keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Exploring in the rain

Fun, if somewhat wet night at Guides this week, as we took the Seniors girls out around the local streets to come up with a bit of a treasure hunt for a different patrol to follow next week.

It was dark and cold and raining, but that just made it all a bit more exciting and interesting, and you get a different perspective on an area you’ve seen many times.

It was quite nice just to be out with one patrol (other leaders took other patrols, yay for lots of adults!), and just being able to chat a bit to them in a relaxed way without having to keep an eye on 20+ kids at once! Nice too for the group to have some time to bond a little bit, and relaxed, quiet walking around made it a really low pressure evening. The purpose of the activity (which will be completed next week) was to observe the local area, and draw a map or create map-like instructions for another to follow – both elements of the World Explore A Challenge badge!

Meanwhile, the Juniors managed to squeeze 15 kids into the kitchen (lucky they’re little!) to make and decorate cupcakes to look like cats and dogs for their Pets badge (any cooking can be made relevant to the badge du jour with a bit of thinking!). Unfortunately the picture examples were forgotten, but luckily not needed as the super creative kids all just figured it out brilliantly themselves, yay 🙂

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Catching up!

Whoops, poor little neglected blog!

So, a quick update on the last two weeks of term:

Our little ones did campfire cooking, doing bananas with chocolate – and very successfully I might add! One fire per patrol, and one adult per patrol, made for a smooth experience. Their work over the term in developing confidence with matches, and the fact that many of them had attended our Juniors sleepover a few weeks ago where they also had to build fires, meant that they’d actually developed and consolidated their skills and were quite competent to set and light and maintain the fires. Go littlies!

Meanwhile, I and NewestCo-Leader (we have a crew now… I need to do some re-blog-naming of my excellent leaders!) led the older girls in ’emergency out of the box’ – we provided a bunch of *stuff* (tarps, ropes, blankets, first aid equipment, clothes, chairs, tables, gadget wood, wool….) in a pile and in patrols they had to respond to various scenarios pulled ‘out of the hat’. Scenarios were things like “there’s been a car crash out the front of the building” “there’s a fire in the kitchen” “you’ve got home and realised you’ve lost your keys and no-one is due home for two hours…”

I’d kind of envisaged they’d pretty much use the bits and pieces to create a vignette of how they’d respond, but it seems we have quite a few dramatic little souls in the group, and so somehow we ended up with these elaborate mini-plays, complete with characters and backstories and HIGH DRAMA! We finished on a silly scenario (“oh my god, the party is in an hour and I have NOTHING to wear!!”) which was a bit of fun 🙂

Our final week of term was a bit ‘bitsy’ – the Seniors did a version of the mini-meal done by the Juniors a few weeks ago (cooking a tiny 3 course dinner over candles), but with the added complication of working with only torchlight – they seemed to enjoy it, but interesting “haaaaate soup” (noted for future camps etc), and got through the task faster than expected. Luckily we were able to fill the time with a bit of “so, what do you want to do next term?”

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a games night, with a bit of leadership worked in – each of the girls had the chance to take the lead in running a game for the group, and it worked really well. We didn’t have a set list of games or of kids, but made it clear initially that we wanted each of them to have a try running things, even if it was only for a round or two of a well known game. They all really stepped up and embraced the task, and it was lovely to see, not to mention, fabulously run by YoungCoLeader, who really does enjoy working with our youngest girls.

Finally finally we had another session of our limping along Rangers group, pulling out our Upper Seniors for the night – they were doing “mini gadgets” (hmm quite a mini theme for the evening, didn’t realise at the time!), using tiny twigs and twine to make doll-house sized camp gadgets. It was… hmm… of mixed success. Still, they enjoyed the time as a separate older group, and have begged for extra sessions next term, so that’s a good sign 🙂

Speaking of next term, our leadership team got together last week for planning term three, and it should be a bunch of fun – we’ll be working on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ badges for Juniors and Seniors respectively, and I think it should be a lovely relaxed sort of term… at this stage it doesn’t look like we’re attempting to crazily over-program, but I’m sure as each week approaches we’ll somehow find ways to add absurd flourishes to the proceedings!

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Balanced plate (nutrition) wide game

This wide game was developed by Awesome Co-Leader, and she has kindly agreed to let me share it here. The wide game took about an hour and ten minutes to complete, and filled a standard unit meeting very well. It required quite a significant amount of pre-meeting preparation and set up, but the girls were able to move through the activities quite independently on the night.

The basic concept of this wide game is that the ‘healthy eating plate’ (similar to a food pyramid concept) was about to undergo review by the government when they discovered that the pieces were missing. Each patrol was tasked with collecting the pieces of the plate as quickly as possible. At the completion of each task they were able to collect a ‘piece’ of the plate to put back together.

For the majority of the wide game, there were separate activities for our Juniors (ages 6-9) and Seniors (ages 10-12) groups. Both sets of activities are outlined here, in the format they were written for the girls to use.

Happy wide gaming, and please let me know if you use this in your unit!



Nutrition wide game: Under 10’s version

Grains challenge one: pancake flipping

[Leaders note: prepare a stack of pikelets/pancakes/crepes ahead of time for the girls to flip. If you had more time, the challenge could include making the pancakes]

Using the frying pans and pancakes provided, practice flipping pancakes and catching them in the pan. Keep practicing until each member of the patrol can flip and catch three times in a row without dropping the pancake.

Grains challenge two: spaghetti knots

[Leaders note: cook a serve of white and wholemeal spaghetti ahead of time]

Each member of the patrol should tie a reef knot with cooked spaghetti. Look at the handbook to make sure you get it right! Hint: it’s easier to see what you’re doing if you use 2 different colours of spaghetti.

Vegetables challenge one: orange veggies taste test

[Leaders note: cook and puree pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, and red lentils ahead of time, and place these in bowls/containers marked A to D. Provide a list of what veggies are on offer for the patrol to match to the samples]

Can you tell which orange vegetable is which? There are samples here of four different vegetables. You should taste them, and then decide which is which. Check your answers with [leader] before moving on.

Vegetables challenge two: vegetable flowers

[Leaders note: provide rounds of cut up vegetables for the patrols to make into flowers- cucumber and carrot are ideal. We purchased purpose-built cutters for this activity, but you could use firm cookie cutters or possibly just sharp knives]

Using the vegetables and the cutters provided, each member of the patrol should make three vegetable flowers.

Dairy challenge: fill the bucket

[Leaders note: we used small cups as the ‘buckets’ to save milk. The ‘bucket’ and jug were about 3 meters apart]

Using the spoons provided, fill up your patrol’s milk bucket. Remember, the milk jug and the bucket must stay where they are!

Protein challenge: drop the egg

Using straws and sticky tape, build a container to protect a raw egg. When you’re finished, show it to a leader and she will drop the egg from a big height (perhaps standing on the table!). I hope the egg doesn’t break!

Fruit challenge: know your fruits

Write a list of ten different types of fruit. Remember, different types of the same fruit don’t count (so red apples and green apples count as one fruit, not two!)

Fats and oils challenge: make butter

[Leaders note: all guides were asked to bring a clean glass jar with a lid (like a jam jar) – small and medium jars were most successful, girls with large jars tended to get frustrated quickly. You will also need to provide several clean glass marbles, and a LOT of cream]

  1. Fill your jar half way with cream.
  2. Add a marble to the cream.
  3. Put the lid on tightly and SHAKE it like crazy!
  4. Keep shaking!
  5. Soon, you will have made whipped cream. You can taste (a little bit!) of the whipped cream if you like.
  6. Keep shaking!
  7. After a few more minutes, you will hear liquid sloshing around in the jar again.  This is the buttermilk starting to separate from the butter.  Almost ready!
  8. Keep shaking! Have a rest and shake some more.
  9. You have made butter — well done!



Nutrition wide game: 10+ version

Grains challenge one: pancake flipping

[Leaders note: prepare a stack of pikelets/pancakes/crepes ahead of time for the girls to flip. If you had more time, the challenge could include making the pancakes]

Using the frying pans and pancakes provided, practice flipping pancakes and catching them in the pan. Keep practicing until each member of the patrol can flip and catch as many times as they are old, without dropping the pancake. So a 10 year old must flip and catch 10 times in a row without dropping the pancakes, an 11 year old must flip and catch 11 times etc.

Grains challenge two: rice tasting

[Leaders note: provide cooked and uncooked arborio, basmati, brown, black and wild rice (or any you like), and label them A-E and 1-5 as appropriate. Provide a list of what rices are on offer for the patrol to match to the samples]

Can you tell which variety of rice is which? There are samples here of five different types of rice, both cooked and uncooked. You should taste each of the different cooked rices (no need to taste the raw rice!) and then decide which is which. Check your answers with [leader] before moving on.

Vegetables challenge one: know your veggies

Write a list of thirty one vegetables (perhaps you could eat a different vegetable every day for a month). And remember, different types of the same vegetable don’t count (so red capsicum and green capsicum count as one vegetable, not two!)

Vegetables challenge two: radish toadstools

[Leaders note: this one proved tricky for the girls – buy extra radishes so they can make a mistake or two!]

Each member of your patrol should make a radish toadstool.

Instructions with excellent photos are available at this fabulous blog:

Dairy challenge: milk the cow

[Leaders note: we used old washing up gloves, with pin holes in the tips of the fingers]

Fill the rubber glove with milk. Careful, there are holes in the fingertips! Now milk the ‘rubber glove cow’ until it’s empty. Try not to spill any milk.

Protein challenge: a perfect circle

Using the camp stoves and a frypan, fry an egg. Try to make it a perfect circle, with the yolk in the very centre.

Fruit challenge: apple bobbing

[Leaders note: be sure to have a wide-opening bucket or tub for the apple bobbing, and have a towel nearby for the inevitable wet hair and faces!]

There are apples floating in a basin of water. Each member of your patrol should hold her hands behind her back and catch an apple with her teeth.

Fats and oils challenge: make butter

[Leaders note: all guides were asked to bring a clean glass jar with a lid (like a jam jar) – small and medium jars were most successful, girls with large jars tended to get frustrated quickly. You will also need to provide several clean glass marbles, and a LOT of cream]

  1. Fill your jar half way with cream.
  2. Add a marble to the cream.
  3. Put the lid on tightly and SHAKE it like crazy!
  4. Keep shaking!
  5. Soon, you will have made whipped cream. You can taste (a little bit!) of the whipped cream if you like.
  6. Keep shaking!
  7. After a few more minutes, you will hear liquid sloshing around in the jar again.  This is the buttermilk starting to separate from the butter.  Almost ready!
  8. Keep shaking! Have a rest and shake some more.
  9. You have made butter — well done!
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First aid fabulous

Fun night this week, as the Seniors group did first aid with much laughter, happy yelling, and general chaos… and hopefully a bit of learning!

One of our oldest Guides, when reminded that the program had us doing first aid said “ohhhhhh… is it going to be boring?”, so of course I looked her straight in the eye and said “Yes. Yes, it’s as boring and terrible a program as ever we’ve done, you’re going to go home tonight saying Guides is THE MOST BORING”. Luckily most of them laughed, so we got off on the right foot 😉

We started with a bit of a run through basic first aid procedures, talking through what they already knew, and helping them to think through the basic logic of what first aid is trying to achieve (i.e. treat minor things, stabilise major things to enable the patient to reach help), and go over the criteria of skills they needed to learn as part of their badge work.

The girls moved through a series of ‘stations’, learning different uses for triangular bandages (a simple sling, and a ‘donut’ to support a foreign body that has pierced a hand), bandaging techniques for various wounds, splinting for snakebite, and learning how to move a patient into recovery position. It was one of those nights where the blogging about it sounds utterly tedious, but the actual experience was great fun, and there was a brilliant happy vibe for the whole night 🙂

Meanwhile, the Junior Guides had a “mini meal” evening, where they each made a teeny-tiny three course meal over tealights, cooking soup (using cup-of-soup mixes) in tin foil tart cases, followed by tiny skewers of cheese and veggies to ‘grill’ for main, and finally toasting marshmallows to put between mini guide biscuits for little s’mores. They were all super excited about it and had a lovely time, and it was so cute to hear one of the girls gleefully reporting to her mum at the end “we made mini soup!”.

So a great night with a great vibe with all the kids, and all the leaders. Loved it 🙂


Mmmm delicious wide games

Fun night at Guides this week (and an easy one for me!) as Awesome CoLeader organised a nutrition-based wide game for the girls.

The basic gist of the wide game was that the various parts of the nutrition ‘plate’ had gone missing, and the girls needed to find them. So there was a dairy based activity (‘milking’ using rubber gloves), vegetable activities including vegetable carving, tasting purees, and brainstorming a list of veggies, protein activities like frying an egg, etc etc etc.

From my perspective, the most successful activity was the ‘fats and oils’ activity which had the girls using glass jars, cream, marbles and muscle power to make butter! How brilliant!

Awesome CoLeader has given me permission to publish the full wide game on her behalf, so keep an eye out for that in the next week or two 🙂

We also ran ‘Rangers’ this week (which ended up just being our upper seniors, annoyingly), and for them I’d organised (and RangersLeader ran) a ‘paper cut art’ evening. I purchased a bunch of craft knives (like delicate Stanley knives) from Kmart ($3 each, including spare blades!), and in a stroke of cost-saving genius, bought $1.40 individual vinyl tiles from Bunnings to use as cutting mats! A bit of a hunt on Google image search gave me a bunch of examples of different types of paper cut art, including fancy letters, floral pieces, and more traditional Chinese paper cuts, which the girls used as both inspiration and as tracing templates. It was a great activity for our slightly longer Rangers sessions (2 hours rather than 1.5 for the younger girls), and nice to give them an activity which we simply wouldn’t think was sensible/safe to do with littlies 🙂


Lazy leading… or girl-led guiding?

Why not both?!

This week the Senior Guides took charge of the program, with each of the three patrols organising and running a World Centre themed activity. This was the result of two weeks of preparation – two weeks ago they were allocated their World Centre, and given five minutes to brainstorm the sorts of equipment/information/ideas that they would need to bring the following week. One week ago, they had 15 minutes as a patrol to look over their materials and discuss ideas and agree as a group what activity they were going to run. And then this week, they actually did it!

The three groups all had 10 minutes to set up, followed by the activities in order. The ‘Pax Lodge’ patrol ran a scavenger hunt, where they had a bunch of pictures of UK sites and items scattered around the grounds, as well as non-UK relevant pictures. The competing teams of 3 girls a piece got points for collecting relevant pictures, and lost points if they collected an incorrect picture. In addition, 4 members of the organising patrol dressed up (two as Queens Guards in ‘bearskin hats’, one as a ‘British Bulldog’, one as ‘The Queen’) (none of their costumes looked at all correct, but it was a lot of fun!), and the competing groups got additional points if they managed to find one of the characters. Very clever set up, and all the girls really loved the activity!

Next up was the Our Cabana patrol, who had organised to make and bring in various bits and pieces to make soft tacos – all the girls put together their own combo, and I think most of them even tried something a bit different to their usual. Even WhiteFoodGuide gave it a decent try, and discovered she quite enjoys spicy meat and beans! This patrol also had a poncho based activity organised, but very few girls had remembered to bring an old blanket or sheet or whatever, and we had limited time, so it ended up just being the food activity. Still, they did very well in all remembering everything, and having appropriate off site and on site preparation!

Finally, the Sangam patrol put together a ‘display’ with bits and pieces about India, and dressed up in saris and shalwar kameez to present a few facts and figures about India. The patrol’s original plan was to put on a skit, but they had several girls away ill and decided to go with a cut down version. Not quite as successful as the other patrol’s activities, but still well organised.

To close out the night, I did a very quick “okay, what do we remember about World Guiding from the last few weeks?” – collectively they could easily remember all of the WAGGGS regions, what WAGGGS stands for, where the world centres are, listed about 15 Asia Pacific region countries without struggle, and were aware that each country had a slightly different Promise and Law. Not bad!! Looks like a fair bit of what we’ve been doing has indeed stuck!

The upshot of all of these patrol activities was that I pretty much sat and supervised, only needing to do the occasional “you need to clean up X, Y, and Z” “this is how you use the industrial dishwasher” “the cloths are on the sink”. EASY!

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader and YoungCoLeader were Juniors-wrangling. AwesomeCoLeader was running the show, which was part of their Eyes badge, and focused on ways to convey information without seeing. The majority of this was focussed on Braille, and she used a very clever way of introducing the Braille code system – six cup muffin pans! Using the muffin pans as the ‘base’ for the six-dot basic braille system, the girls used a giant stash of jelly beans to practice the alphabet, and then did some de-coding of braille dots. As it was an ‘Eyes’ night, they also played The Postcard Game (which involves matching postcard halves scattered around the gardens), as well as a quick game of Camouflage.

So, all in all, a really good night.

With our larger numbers, we’ve lately been running the two groups semi-separately, almost as proper “Guide” and “Brownie” units. The next three weeks, however, we’ve got everyone back together. It will be interesting to see how we manage that, as the numbers of kids if everyone turns up is getting pretty large (34, I think?), and the age range (and more importantly, capacity range) is also getting pretty huge – from 6 year olds in prep to 12 year olds in year seven! I suspect we may need to have an excellent cup of tea waiting at home after those nights!!

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End of the year!

Final night of Guides for the year. Always a mixed feeling – its been a long term, so I’ll be glad of some time away from planning and doing Guides, but I know in about three weeks time I’ll be wondering what to do with myself! We don’t go back until the first week of February, so its quite a break!

We were meant to have a longer meeting than usual tonight, starting off with Christmas carols at the local hospital. Unfortunately, they’ve had an outbreak of gastro, so some last minute emails and text messages flew around cancelling – don’t want the kids getting sick!

So we just met for our usual hour and half, and had some games and a bit of a party – I put up streamers in the hall, we played some games outside, had some ‘party’ games inside with ‘stick the star on the star’ (a bit like pin the tail on the donkey), and musical chairs. We also ate some munchies, did a little brainstorming for next year, and handed out a bunch of badges. We also gave the girls each a tiny Chrissy present – a ‘Merry Christmas’ badge and a chocolate Santa 🙂

The very cute Merry Christmas badge we gave the girls:

Christmas Guide badge

After Guides I joined the Rangers – all two of them (??) – and we played some Guiding Snap and ‘Cheat’, using the playing cards designed by Super Keen Badge Guide, and then had quite a detailed chat about how Rangers might work next year, and a long discussion about which girls we thought were likely to stick with the group. With one girl going up to Rangers from Sister Unit, we think there will probably be about 5 girls in the group – the trick will be having them regularly attend, and having things structured enough that they are working towards badges and goals, rather than the gossip club its kind of morphing into.

Anyway. That’s things to think about over the summer. No doubt there will be bloggy pondering to come! 🙂


Ceremonial celebrations!

Special night tonight, as two of our girls were presented with their JBP and BP Awards.

The first 30 minutes or so were spent setting up – we split girls up into groups with specific tasks – balloon blowing up, hanging up streamers, putting out the chairs, setting up the front table, helping out in the kitchen – and left them to it, while I drilled the girls selected to do colour party.

There was just enough to be done to keep them all busy for 15 minutes, then we rehearsed the  two songs for part of the ceremony – Bravo, and This Little Guiding Light (just the first verse), and a more complicated version of our usual step in. The girls were all fabulously engaged in the whole process, and listened properly when we had a quick reminder about properly marching into formation, rather than their (all too regular) moseying into circle!

We then had a short break while Awesome Co-leader explained to the girls about how we would be participating in the worldwide Thinking Day Postcard Exchange, and that in order for the postcards to reach their destinations in time for Thinking Day next year, that we would need to write up the cards tonight. It turned out to be the perfect activity for the time slot, and a great way to calm them down before the ceremony proper.

Finally – the ceremony. The girls remembered everything, and all behaved beautifully, marching exactly right, and singing wonderfully!

So pleased and proud, and the two girls receiving their awards (and their families) were delighted 🙂

We finished up with supper – cake, fruit, and chips, and cups of tea and coffee, which the girls helped with serving – or at least, they did in between bites of cake!

Final week next week before our summer break!

Here’s the amazing themed cakes baked by Awesome Co-leader! (After a ceremonial cut each by the Awardees, in case you couldn’t tell!)


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Campfire and chocolate

A lovely evening tonight (mostly!), as we had a proper campfire outside, with lots of singing. We got through lots of songs, with the girls suggesting a few, and even leading a couple, which was great.

A slightly complicated set up for the campfire, with three layers of aluminium foil roasting tins, stacked together for insulation, set up on two upturned loaf tins, so that we had only a small area of heat touching the ground. It worked very well, and meant that we didn’t damage the grassy area. Co-leader and I were decidedly smug about our set up 🙂

Anyway, all was going well, and we were up to our last song, when it started to rain. Initially just a drop or two, which in less than two minutes turned into a full on downpour!!

So we had to dash inside, with marshmallow toasting off the plan initially, substituted by an emergency session of the chocolate game! Five minutes later, co-leader popped outside to grab some things left by the fire, only to find that the rain had stopped, and the fire had survived, turning into perfect marshmallow coals! So we decided that we’d just send the kids home full of sugar, and give them toasted marshmallows as well as chocolate 🙂

Some good news on the recruitment side – newbie 7 year old returned again, and mum took forms, and her cousin also came along! In sadder news though, fabulous American helper had her last night, as she’s heading home on Saturday.

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Adventures in mud & masterpieces

Great day out today, starting off with National Tree Day (, which is a great service activity for kids – its reasonably short (we did about an hour and a half), everything is provided (although its pretty good for kids to bring kid-sized garden gloves), and you feel like something has been achieved.
This year, the site we chose was at Collingwood Children’s Farm (, which was rather lovely, as it was nearby, and the girls were allowed to have a bit of a wander around after planting and check out the sheep, goats, horses, and pigs.
We were joined by a few of sister unit’s kids (and 2 of their mums!) which was great, its always nice to have a good crowd for these sorts of activities, its much more fun! And our total of 16 kids across the two units was much better than last year’s 3!!

In the afternoon, we backed up our muddy morning by taking just the girls from our unit (minus two planters, plus one extra kid who didn’t want to plant!) into the city for a lunch out, and a visit to the Australian art collection at the National Gallery of Victoria.

It worked out really well – lunching at a Chinese restaurant, which the girls seemed to enjoy – one of our younger Guides was decidedly skeptical about dumplings, but being reminded that Guides rules are “must have two bites”, she gave both the vegetable and the meat dumplings a try and LOVED THEM!

Onto the art gallery, and co-leader had been very organised and found that the gallery offers ‘trails’ for kids to do (, so we had something to structure our time in the galleries, and give the kids something in particular to look for, and analyse, and think about. It worked really well, and I think it made the kids focus, rather than just go through as quick as they possibly could.

Of course, we did have a moment or two in the modern 80s themed galleries, where some of the content was less… kid-friendly than the more traditional collections! A couple of pictures that were decidedly risqué! Ah well!

To finish up, we did a quick activity downstairs for kids, where they could colour in masks, before heading across Federation Square (and having a dance and a pose for the big screen!) and catching the train back out to our meeting point with parents.

All in all, a good day, a bit of service, some new experiences, and a bit of fun!

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